Here’s a fundamental problem with the types of analysis that the media performs with polls. The San Jose Mercury News interpreted the poll results between competition between Arnold S. and his two other GOP challengers in the following way:
The numbers in a statewide Field Poll released today back that up. Among the major candidates to replace Gov. Gray Davis should the governor be recalled, Schwarzenegger gets 22 percent, McClintock 9 percent and Simon 8 percent — a total of 39 percent of likely voters. That’s much more than Democratic Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante’s 25 percent — when it’s not split three ways.
This is in no way, shape, or form a true statement. Quite simply, many of those voters who would select either Simon or McClintock, from my understanding, would likely not select A.S. as governor, as they disagree with many of his social liberal policies. So the idea that these two candidates dropping out would suddenly cause a simple addition of voters to A.S. and provide him an overwhelming lead in the race is simply untrue. It is just as likely that, failing to find a suitable candidate, such likely voters would become unlikely voters. Yet this kind of media fallacy will likely only increase the pressure in certain circles for the two underdog candidates to drop out, or at least marginalize their campaigns, as they will be standing in the way of the candidate dubbed “Most Likely to Succeed” by the media. Of course, having A.S. elected in a recall campaign would most likely be a sensational ending to this whole debacle, so on a subconscious level I could see why all these outlets wouldn’t mind so much if that occurred.